Listening to Muses and Facing Chaos

Confession: I’ve been really into tarot lately. Okay, I know that should come as no shock since I am a tarot reader, but I think we all ebb and flow in our interest in any job, topic, sensation, discussion, whatever it is. We get overwhelmed, tired, distracted, disinterested, etc. And that’s okay. That’s normal. Our Muses may offer us a different research topic or a new job opportunity, or whatever fun thing that Muses want us humans to create on this earthly plane. I generally choose to go with the flow on what interests me so that I can create most effectively and happily.

I am happy to be deeply involved in my study of tarot these days. I’m listening to a series of interviews or podcasts about different tarot topics. When I’m out walking Cosmo along the streets of Nashville, I put in my headphones and listen to these tarot talks. These are new topics and perspectives for me which I find to be fun and interesting. I listened to one the other day on tarot birth cards and was motivated to continue my own write ups for each tarot year card, something that’s been on my back burner for months. I listened to a talk about tarot visual journaling and finally pasted some images into an empty journal I’ve had for 2 years just for that purpose. If you’re interested in listing to tarot podcasts, I’ve raved about them before on my blog, and you can buy access to them here.

You may have noticed that I wrote that blog post about the Guardian Gateway Telesummit back in July and now here I am admitting that I just started listing to it this week! What can I say- inspiration strikes you when it strikes you. I’ve been meaning to listen to these things, but I haven’t been stressing about it or mean to myself about falling down on the job. Instead I knew I would listen at just the right moment and obviously I’ve been hearing just when I need to hear at just the right moment.

The podcasts I listened to yesterday really spoke to my heart and I wanted to share with you some helpful, healing ideas that I took away from my listen. I feel like we can all use some healing right now. This was the talk by Heather Mendel and started out with her discussing (and I’m paraphrasing) the sense of overwhelm and overload in our world right now. We see politics dragged to the lowest common denominator, our airwaves are full of disrespect, and fear is everywhere in the media all around us, 24/7. It feels like we are on the precipice of something. That we are about to reach the tipping point. But the tipping point towards what?

16towerss

The Tower Shadowscapes tarot

Heather brings up the concepts of The Tower, which represents total destruction but also rebuilding and renewal. She offers us the choice of where we want to put our focus. Do we want to focus solely upon the Shadow side that is starkly evident all around us, pulling us towards chaos and obliteration? Or do we want to consider this chaos as a clearing that rips away all darkness and leaves us ready to rebuild and be reborn? No matter what, we are faced with destruction, but it is our choice whether we focus on what we lost or what we can gain from this situation.

As the Shadow side of humanity comes to the foreground now, we are offered the chance to consciously acknowledge and work to understand the shadow. It isn’t hiding anymore. We can see it for what it is. And when we do that, we can defeat it, we can take away the Shadow’s power over us by fully acknowledging and confronting it. This sounds nice enough, doesn’t it? See the Shadow, confront it, understand it, banish it’s power. Wonderful, yes! But we are all aware that the reality of that it is actually super painful and uncomfortable. I can’t say that I’m enjoying seeing the racism, sexism, xenophobia, and hatred that is swirling around us every day. The way Shadow presents itself is terrible to behold, but behold it we must.

The Tower Rider Waite Smith deck

The Tower
Rider Waite Smith deck

I like to think that my soul chose to be here right now. I made a decision to be a part of this and I can decide how my part is going to be acted out right now. I can decide to hold peace in my heart. I can decide to bring light into the shadow. I can be true to myself and share my gifts with others. It’s about the bigger picture. It’s about a larger perspective than just my little world. This chaos, shadow, and fear in the world offers us a chance to see things from a different perspective. It isn’t a perspective I would actively wish for, but it is what we’ve got, and I’m going to make the best of it.

That is the message I heard from Heather Mendel when I listened to her tarot talk yesterday. It made me feel teary-eyed, like so many things do these days. It also made me feel empowered. No, everything is not going to be okay, but I can do something anyway. I can keep shining a light into the darkness. I am hold strong to my ideals. I can be a witness and a watcher as chaos destroys our old world and do my best to shape what emerges with my shifted perspective. After total destruction we get to decide how to rebuild. We can decide to break through instead of break down.

Judgement Meditation

Judgement Rider Waite Smith

Judgement
Rider Waite Smith

The next Soul Meditation along the Fool’s Journey is with Jugdement. I entered the meditation along a path through a foreboding mountain range. The Path was treacherous, with a sheer cliff face dropping off on one side, and shooting straight up on the other side. The path wound along the cliff to a towering, 20 foot tall, stone gate. This was a path with purpose, hard to find, and not meant to be traveled by many. One must seek the path to find it, and then it still is not easily discovered. The key I brought clicked in the lock on the gate with the sound of many small mechanical devices unwinding. I then pushed back the great gates to enter into a widening of the path into a narrow valley. A long lake filled the valley floor, surrounded by towering jagged peaks. There was a stillness and quiet to this mountain lake that filled me with tense expectation.

The light in the sky was that of predawn. All over the lake, people sat in little coffin shaped boxes, waiting for the rising of the sun. The people closest to me gently gestured for me to get into my own box. Terror rose up in my heart at the idea but I pushed down my fear and moved forward anyway. I set first one foot, and then the other, into the box. The bottom of the box was made of branches tied together so the whole box tipped precariously when I stepped in and floated on the water. I stood very deliberately and gingerly, as if I was just learning to surf the waves and managing to balance.

Then the sun peaked above the mountaintops and all around me the people began to stand and reach their arms up towards the sun. I was off-balance and unsure of myself in my little floating coffin box on the water. I was afraid to look up into the sky, even after I had raised my arms and finally found my balance. What would I see in the bright light of the sky above me? I sensed a presence that was otherworldly and worried that it would be disapproving of me. Then I heard the name of Gabriel  in the meditation and knew it was safe to look skyward.

Judgement Shadowscapes Tarot

Judgement
Shadowscapes Tarot

Here was my angel spirit guide! Gabriel is always with me, ready to take me into his embrace and fortify me. I gazed up into the sky and saw the angel reaching down to take my hands. I put my hands into his and stepped up into the sky to stand with within his wings. Gabriel spoke to me, and told me that I need to be more open. I need to work on reaching out to others. The fear I felt in my heart to look up into the light of the sky, shows my tendency to hide my own light inside of me. This is the potential inside of me that is unrealized. I’m afraid to accept my spirituality and show it to others. My heart is a burning ball of light that I’m blocking. Gabriel told me that he believes in me and will support me on my journey to self acceptance. This self esteem will lead to greater inclusion of others into my personal world in order to share my light and help guide other’s toward their inner light.

Gabriel reassured me with his messages and helped me back into my floating coffin box. Together we filled the box with all of my regrets and bad memories. We then closed the box and sent it floating across the lake, receding into nothingness. It felt surreal to watch the box disappear into the horizon, lifting a weight of worries off my shoulders. This meditation brought a true sense of absolution to my heart.

Then Gabriel gave me a gift. At first glance I thought he was handing me a swaddled infant, but when I looked down it was actually a puppy, a small fluffy white ball of licks and wags. Here was my animal spirit guide returned to me! I interpreted this as a message to reacquaint myself with the freshness and innocence of The Fool. I’m not ready yet to complete this full cycle along the Fool’s Journey, but the potential for endings and beginnings is all around me. I can learn to accept my inner calling, to open up to that hot glow inside of me. I’m still scared though, and I think others won’t like my spirituality and think I’m new agey and religious. Perhaps there iss a way to ease people into it, into me, little by little.  That is my mission now.

200x200In this Soul Meditation, Gabriel game me a dog to help me grow and heal. I’ve been constantly daydreaming about getting a dog soon, so this also feels like a message that a dog will greatly add to my life on a spiritual level. I left the Judgement meditation knowing my inner calling and needing to make that leap to accept it and work with it. I’m excited to do the meditation with The World next, as it will be the last one on Biddy Tarot’s meditation journey through the Major Arcana!

Birthday Reading for Me! Turning 33 with The Hierophant

Yay!  July 8th is my birthday and this year I turn 33 years old.  Numerologically, this is year of The Hierophant for me. I think that a birthday is a wonderful time to do a tarot reading, so I developed a special spread to help process and guide the energies of the coming year. I did this spread last year, and am excited to share another birthday reading with you this year. I had a blast rereading last year’s birthday reading and working up this new one.

The birthday tarot spread I developed is a 6 question spread addressing:  1. how will your current tarot year card manifest itself in your life,  2. what lessons do you need to learn this year, 3. what particular area of your life do you need to focus on this year, 4. what obstacles stand in your way this year, 5. what can help you achieve your goals this coming year, and 6. what kind of year can you expect to experience? I used the Shadowscapes deck to do this reading.

My immediate thought upon seeing the cards was, “Whoa, this reading is HEAVY”.  I had a professor in college who would fail any paper that contained the word heavy as an adjective that described anything besides a unit of measurement, but seriously guys, I can feel the weight of this reading on my shoulders. And it feels heavy. The Hierophant is bit of a difficult year to wrap my head around. I don’t always have the best associates with this archetype, since it represents conformity, dogma, discipline and a general “in the box” sort of thinking- no tarot reader’s favorite place to be. I want to be free and expansive, but there are still so many lessons I need to learn from those who are older and wiser, from society as a social structure that exists for a reason, from all of the cultivated wisdom that can help me on my journey.

Here I am doing my birthday tarot reading at Lake Oologah in Oklahoma.

Here I am doing my birthday tarot reading at Lake Oologah in Oklahoma.

Here’s what I drew:

justiceSS

Justice reversed Shadowscapes Tarot

How will The Hierophant manifest in my life this year: Justice reversed
Here is a card I hear cry out in my own voice: “But this isn’t FAIR!” I have a keenly developed sense of logic. I smile appreciatively when someone tells me I’m rational, level-headed, or that I make “so much sense”. The elevation of logic is a cultural norm in my Eurocentric worldview, so I always want to embody the rational approach. My Moon sign, the sign of emotions, is in the Air sign (read- mind-oriented, logical realm) of Aquarius (read- I want to be unique about my rational). So,I feel emotionally comfy and secure when I’m using my noggin and people think I’m so super smart and different for my perspective. The Hierophant energy of my year wants me to fall in line, though. This year is ruled by an energy of conformity and Justice reversed tells me that I’m not gonna like it. I’ve been living out of a van for the last year, ruling over my own life (read EMPIRE as it was an Emperor year). This year, though Kristen and I are getting an apartment again and it may be weird and difficult to sign a lease, fill out job applications, or do all those normal people things- like have a mailing address. Justice reversed tells me that there will probably be some kick back against the rigidity of The Hierophant. I’m going to want to keep doing things my own way, when the energy around me is all about saying that I need to live inside the box for a while.

worldrxSS

The World rxed Shadowscapes Tarot

What lesson can I learn this year: The World rxed
The journey that I’m on is not over yet. Kristen and I will still be touring around the U.S. for the rest of the summer and then we are going to South America for three months. Still, this year will see us settle down to a greater degree than we have in the past. The World reversed shows me that travel will not be as constant as last year. This is also a card about closure, and I feel an end to a cycle coming on strongly. I’ve learned SO MUCH recently about myself, my outlook on reality, my spirituality, my place in the world, etc. There is a heavy sense of ending around me. This last transit of Saturn through Scorpio is digging up so many of the lessons of the past 3 years that I’m impatient to expound upon. I’m ready, I’m ready, I’m ready, but the process of ending is frustratingly slow. Sure, I feel ready in my heart, but I don’t feel ready in my physicality, in my timing, in my mind. Something is still off, so hopefully the presence of The World reversed in this position means that this year I will find that culmination and closure that seems so imminent but is sneakily not here just yet.

VI of Cups Shadowscapes Tarot

VI of Cups
Shadowscapes Tarot

What to focus on this year: VI of Cups
Here is a clue to how I can bring about the closure that The World hints at, but doesn’t deliver. The VI of Cups is a card of the past. It represents nostalgia, but also lingering in moments that have already gone by, instead of staying in the present and working toward the future. I need to examine my past and figure out what is holding me back. I could be idealizing a golden age. On the other hand, I could be failing to deal with matters of the heart that still weigh me down or oppress me in some manner. Making peace with the past is difficult for us all. There is always the little voice in the head that wanders if things would be different now if we had acted some other way, if we had chosen some other direction, if we hadn’t done what we had done. I believe we have to leave the past behind us, so my focus this year is to figure out what I’m holding onto from my past that no longer serves me, how to release and let go of that past, and bringing that closure that I’m looking for into the now.

IV of Cups Shadowscapes Tarot

IV of Cups
Shadowscapes Tarot

What will hinder me: IV of Cups
Ironically, what will hinder my process of self assessment and healing the past, is too much introspection. The IV of Cups shows a going within, a time of self examination when the outside world is not as important as the inner world. The warning here is that I must not forget about all the things I need to do with my life to move forward, while I’m examining all the things in my life that I want to leave behind. Here is a reminder to find balance. Yes, examine the past and your past lessons, but do it activitely. My intuition says this means that I can’t do it alone. I need to find outside help. This would tie in perfectly with the energy of The Hierophant, who is often an older and wiser counselor who can help you learn and grow. A personal dream or goal of mine is to find a spiritual advisor who can help me grow as a tarot reader, but also help me process my feelings about my developing spirituality. The IV of Cups is a card of isolation and contemplation, two things I love to do, but will hinder my progress. Here is an opportunity for me to do something outside the norm for myself, even while conforming to a Hierophant year energy.

The Emperor Shadowscapes deck

The Emperor
Shadowscapes deck

What energy will help me: The Emperor reversed
I looove this. Last year was a IV year for me, which is the year of The Emperor. Now I have moved on to a V year, which is the year of The Hierophant. Basically, letting go of what came before will help me move on this coming year. The idea of energy cycles is difficult, especially when I was having such a powerful Emperor year when I felt like I was building up this personal empire. I found so many amazing clients for my tarot business to grow. I also worked hard to build relationships with tons of bookers and clubs in my tour manager career. I feel like Kristen and I could keep this up and conquer the USA as vandwelling musician and tarot readers. But that energy is receding now, and the dream of constant traveling is fading into a desire to get an apartment and a dog and have a home base that doesn’t involve wheels. That is Hierophant energy and I need to accept it and flow with it. It is time to let The Emperor energy go and embrace the new year of my life with The Hierophant.

Judgement Shadowscapes Tarot

Judgement
Shadowscapes Tarot

What type of year can I expect with The Hierophant: Judgement
Here’s why I feel like this is a heavy year of energy. Justice and Judgement are both very serious cards in my opinion, as is The Emperor and The Hierophant. That’s a lot of Major Arcana energy that deals with serious matters. Judgement, card XX also nicely complements The World reversed, card XXI. Before I can find the ending (XXI The World is the last Major), I need to go through the lessons of Judgement. I just did a meditation on Judgement today and things feel very clear to me. I need to heed my inner calling. Honestly, I feel like I have heard that inner calling and being a tarot reader and a traveler and marrying the woman of my dreams. I’m just not sure I’ve told everyone, or lived that inner calling, which I feel is the next step. Being an introvert isn’t going to work, says the IV of Cups. I need to shine my light outward and people are not going to understand or even like it, which goes against my sense of logical with Justice reversed. I need to put the past behind me, I don’t have to be that girl I was, I can be this woman I am to myself in front of the whole world. Until I do that, this cycle doesn’t end. The fact that all these cards showed up in this reading, gives me strength that I’m on the right path. This reading makes me feel like I know what to do and that I CAN do it.

P1070365This year I will work to fulfill my inner calling. I have heard it, now I must act and be living in accordance with that calling. I will do this by bringing about a positive and happy transition from my childhood atheism to my present spirituality. I should look for others who have lived a similar path and I will learn from them. I will branch out to include others in my inner world, letting my heart shine it’s light onto all those who need it. I will let go of some of my vandwelling independence and join the ranks of rent paying, addressed homebodies. I will celebrate and acknowledge what I have done before and be open to take that next Fool’s leap into a new way of living. This reading is huge for me! Thank you so much for being a part of the journey thus far and consider this your cordial invitation to continue onward with me on this willow path.

How are you learning and growing this year as we slowly revolve around the sun on this great planet of ours? Do you know what your goals and dreams are?  Are you working toward them? Do you know what is holding you back and what can support you in moving forward? Are you acting in alignment with who you are? Do you know how to listen to your calm inner center of being? I feel motivated and encouraged by this reading.  I know I have a lot of work to do, both in the physical world and in my internal spiritual development.  It’s a wonderful thing to have the tarot for these exercises in self reflection and empowerment. Please get in touch if you would like a reading of your own!

Travel Tarot: The Hierophant

In the Travel Tarot series I share stories and pictures from my life out on the road, reading tarot, tour managing for Kristen Ford, and seeing the USA out the window of our converted camper van named Lady. I take quite a few photos each day, and many of them end up on my Instagram account with a hashtag for a corresponding tarot card that reminds me of the image, mood, or theme of the photo.  Sometimes the connections between life and tarot are obvious, and other times an explanation brings us deeper into the meaning of the card, the energies of our lives, and the connection between these energies and our daily existence.  This series offers that deeper exploration of a photo, a tarot card, and how that relates to my day to day life on the road.

The Beinecke Library Yale University New Haven, CT

The Beinecke Library
Yale University
New Haven, CT

THE HIEROPHANT:
Tradition
Order
Discipline
Conformity
Structure

Tried and True
Time Tested
Shared Knowledge
Group Mind
Inside the Box
Collective Identity
Conventional
Wise Counsellor
Establishment
Heritage
Trusted Guidance

 

The Hierophant can be a tricky card for this tarot reader. The card is all about rules and structure, traditionally with religious overtones.  It’s about someone else telling you how things are and what you need to do. For example, The Hierophant is also called The Pope in some decks. Hell no! I want to set my own rules and do things my own way, especially since tarot reading is against so many of The Hierophant’s doctrines. The Hierophant doesn’t want you to think for yourself, he wants you to follow. I question tradition. I wonder why doctrines exist. Who do they serve and to what end? Why should I subscribe to a religion when I can create my own spirituality without the need for someone to intervene between me and the divine? I’m perfectly capable of accessing God without a Church or the Patriarchy to tell me how to do it. Societal rules seem just as arbitrary as church doctrine as well.  Why can’t I live in my van and park on the street? No overnight parking!? Why not!?  I can be a productive and valuable member of society without hunkering down behind a desk and paying rent, especially while I’m young and active.

Anyway, my point is that when I see The Hierophant come up in a reading, I can have a knee jerk reaction that he indicates unnecessary restriction and constraint on a situation. I think, uh oh, someone is just being a sheep instead of a leader. But of course, this isn’t always the case with The Hierophant. There are institutions and systems that I appreciate in our society. One of those societal structures is the library. I love going into different libraries and archives during our travels, walking among the shelves, looking at documents, learning and experiencing history. The photo above, from the Beinecke Library at Yale, is a great example of an institution with rules and systems in place that I like.  Anyone can go into the Beinecke and see a Gutenberg Bible or Shakespeare’s original works, but there are some conditions in place.  These rules exist so that the books can continue to exist, and that makes sense to me as rules worth following.

Card catalogs at The Chicago Public Library

Card catalogs at The Chicago Public Library.  So many cards!  So much structure!

I love libraries and archives!  The library was one of my favorite places as a young child, and I read and read and read and am still reading as much as I can today. I love the way libraries look, and smell, and feel.  I love them so much that I went to school for years in order to get a Masters in Library Science. Unfortunately, this degree does not come in very handy on the road. So much about libraries and archives is wrapped up in the physical space of the collection. There is a presence in a library structure that carries a lot of meaning to me.  As far as I know, there aren’t many traveling librarian jobs.  Could I just pop into any public library and reshelve the books for a day and some pay?  I wish!  Most freelance library work involves being online and doing something with the digital realm. That’s ok, but I’m not going to go out of my way to seek it out when I already spend so much of my time on the internet, doing something I’m really passionate about:  reading tarot and setting up tour dates for Kristen!

Kalamazo, Michigan Public Library atrium.

Kalamazoo, Michigan Public Library atrium.  Time to wander into the occult section….

What I’ve come to learn from The Hierophant is that there are situations in which you learn from what has come before you.  Accumulated knowledge adds value and keeps you from reinventing the wheel. The important thing is to be conscious of the structures you decide to integrate into your life.  Pick your wise counsellors, instead of just going along with what your parents did, or everyone else does. That way, when you explore your spirituality, you can pick a religion that is meaningful to you and form a relationship with that church. Then the guidance you receive from God will be aligned with your values. The same can be said of books- it’s not the best idea to just believe everything your read because your teachers assigned it to you.  Find the books that inform your opinions in order to move beyond theory and into practice.  The Hierophant doesn’t have to be a box restricting you, but a firm foundation from which to explore.

IMG_5223The Hierophant Reversed:
Undisciplined
Unorthodox
Originality
Invention
Outside the box
Against the grain
Independent

Breaking from constraints
Unrestricted
Questioning tradition
No role models
Rebellious
Making your own rules

Many times in life, the answers or information you are looking for, aren’t easy to find.  Then the learning process can be just as worthwhile as the acquisition of knowledge!  Let’s take the book example a step farther, above is a photo of a used bookstore in New Orleans, Louisiana.  OMG- what a shop!  Books stacked haphazardly on every surface, all the way to the ceiling. How on earth are you supposed to find what you need in here?  Well, you need to think outside of the box, you need to get creative. My mind whirled as I looked around this store, but soon I noticed that there was a bit of system here. The science fiction was here, the books about NOLA were over there, French language books were piled up by the door. There was a rebellion against the ordinary in this shop, a stirring of independent tradition, or but there were still rules.  They were just unorthodox rules.

And why should a bookstore be neat?  Why should it be organized?  Why should it be that finding the right book for you depends upon being able to read the spine label? How does the author’s name effect your ability to learn or being entertained by a book?  This bookstore suggests that there is a different way. Buying a book can be about serendipity. This store, to me, reflects the real world, much more than a library where all the books are firmly categorized and labeled.  Life is messy.  You never know what will happen next, and you have to roll with it.  This store also is a good representation of how information is stored in the mind. There are lose connections between thoughts and memories in one section, but chronology is screwed, names are misplaced, categories overlap. The unrestrained mind wanders and explores, makes associates, imposed cause and effect. Sometimes it all makes sense, but sometimes it’s illogical.  In either case, we get by.

Arcadian Books and Art Prints shop in New Orleans, Louisiana.  I could have spent all day in here!

Arcadian Books and Art Prints shop in New Orleans, Louisiana. I could have spent all day in here!

I hope you enjoyed this installation of Travel Tarot.  I plan to add a new photo and travel life story as often as I can, so follow this blog, or hop on over to Facebook and follow me there so you never miss a Travel Tarot story.  Yay!

Tarot Blog Hop Imbolc- Oracular Anomalies

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For this Imbolc Tarot Blog Hop we were asked by our wrangler, Karen of Pure & Blessed Tarot, to write about an oracular anomaly we have experienced.  Basically, this means I’m going to share with you something that sticks out to me as weird about a tarot deck I use sometimes. The deck is The Deviant Moon Tarot by Patrick Valenza and the card is Strength. This is a visually stunning deck, dark and sometimes dangerous in its depictions of the tarot cards. I just love it, as I’m sure many of you do too!  Most of the cards in this deck are easy to interpret if you are familiar with the Rider Waite Smith tradition, but the Strength card always jumps out at me as strange when I look through this deck.  Let me explain why I feel this way and then I will go into how I work with this ocacular anomaly in my tarot reading practice.

Strength Deviant Moon Tarot

Strength
Deviant Moon Tarot

As you may have noticed from earlier posts on this blog, I love the Strength card.  It is my tarot birth card and my general, all-purpose, favorite card in the tarot deck.  It usually corresponds to my favorite number, 8, and perhaps this is where the difficulties with this Strength card begin, as Valenza follows the Thoth tradition of Strength being card 11. Maybe, maybe not, as usually when reading with a deck where Strength is card 11, I just ignore that little kick to my comfort zone and pretend Strength is still card 8. What actually gets me is the image itself of Strength which just doesn’t jive with my regular Strength card sensibilities. First off, there isn’t a woman in the card, at least not your typical female appearance of a woman! I associate Strength with the divine feminine so it’s hard for me to get down with this Strength card showing a man.  Also, this isn’t just any man, he’s a strongman, judging from the circus tents in the back.  To me, the Strength card has nothing to do with brawn, with brute force, or with big muslces- so why the strong man?  Lastly, Strength from The Deviant Moon shows the man forcefully opening the jaws of a scary reptilian creature. I’m used to an image of Strength in which the woman controls a mighty lion with gentleness and compassion.  So, those are my quibbles with the Strength card image from the Deviant Moon, and why I find it to be an oracular anomaly.

I love this deck though, so I’ve worked on how to align my tarot reading style with the image from this deck. That process has helped me think about this card in a new way, and that perspective deepens my knowledge and understanding of the tarot.  Basically, what I see in this image is the Ego confronting his inner demons.  The image isn’t literal, its not a strongman showing off his muscles, it’s a metaphor for the inner struggle to overcome the Ego and the thinking mind.  For me, the Ego is a very masculine concept, one concerned with rationalizing, thinking, and controlling in contrast to the feminine experience of intuiting, feeling, and surrendering.  It takes a very strong masculine force inside of each of us to force open the mouth of our inner pain and confront the demons in our dark places that holds us back from consciousness and enlightenment.

Strength Shadowscapes Tarot

Strength
Shadowscapes Tarot

I find The Deviant Moon Tarot to be a powerful tool when doing this type of intense, shadow side work.  It’s beautiful and easy for me to see the typical Strength card with a gentle woman, clad all in white, taming a lion, and experience that calm surrender to the moment.  I see that “regular” Strength card and I know to access my inner strength and have confidence in myself and my abilities. I can connect with other people and nature, I can follow my life path with ease, I can flow in the now. The Deviant Moon Strength card is the perfect image for when that process is not easy, when surrender seems distant and unachievable, when Strength must be a committed fight for consciousness.  It can be difficult to separate our identity from our pain, as often our sorrow and struggles are how we define ourselves. I don’t believe that it is productive or necessary to act this way though. I want to define myself by the love, compassion, and connectedness I bring with me into the world.  Strength reminds me to be more than the Ego, and the Deviant Moon image of Strength depicts the difficult process that is separation from the Ego and integration with self and the universe.

I hope you enjoyed this latest blog post.  I have to admit, I had no idea what to write when I heard the topic was “ocacular anomalies”, so I hope I muddled through this one ok!  I’m looking forward to hopping along and seeing what all the other amazing tarot bloggers out there had to say about this subject.  You can follow along on the links below as well. Happy Imbolc! Spring approaches!

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Finding Your Strength

 

VIII Strength Rider Waite Smith deck

VIII Strength
Rider Waite Smith deck

Strength is the eighth step or lesson of the Fool’s Journey that is represented in the Major Arcana.  This is a metaphorical journey through life experiences that a person must complete in order to realize the wholeness of his or her humanity.

The commonly attributed lessons of this card are: compassion, inner strength, gentle persuasion, controlling with love, patience, determination, perseverance and courage.

 In many tarot decks, including the Rider Waite Smith tarot deck shown to the right, we see for Strength an image of a woman dressed in white placing her hands gently upon the head of a lion. The woman is crowned in flowers and wears another garland of red flowers around her waist. Above her head is the lemniscate, symbol of infinity. The lion looks up at this fair woman with regal submission. His tongue protrudes from his month and his tail is lowered between his legs. The sky is a bright yellow and the figures stand upon lust green grass with a mountain range in the distance. The energy of this Strength card image is loving, tender, supportive, accepting and serene.  We see a moment in time captured in stillness and full conscious presence.

The Strength card is not about action, like The Chariot, which came before it on the Fool’s Journey, but rather surrender. It is possible to be strong without being forceful, aggressive or domineering. There is a time and place for the power of The Chariot, but the next step on the Fool’s Journey is to go beyond the ego-focused will of the Chariot and towards a more holistic consciousness. There is a great need to remain calm in the face of aggression, to work toward harmony between individual wills, and integrate your unique ego into a consciousness of all creation.   This lesson of collective consciousness is difficult to learn. So, how can we go about learning the lesson of Strength?

In order to align yourself to Strength, allow yourself to feel gratitude, love and abundance. Gaze upon the lion in the image and notice the steadiness and acceptance he projects at the woman. Know that you are deserving of this kind of trust from others, and also that you can trust in yourself as well.  The lion allows the woman of Strength to touch and stroke him because of the purity of her intention that can be easily communicated to him without words.  This purity of intention comes from the setting aside of the idea that the woman and the lion are separate beings and instead focusing on what they share as living beings. They were both born and they both will die, this connects every living being. The woman does not judge the lion for being a beast, try to change him, or attempt to explain him outside of his actual existence.  The lion reassures you and encourages you to trust in yourself.   Get in touch with your worthiness and do not waste time judging yourself. The lion is a symbol to teach and guide you into acceptance of your own divine Strength.

Strength Motherpeace Tarot

Strength
Motherpeace Tarot

Connecting with nature and animals is an easy, great first step toward uncovering your inner Strength. In this image of Strength on the left from the Motherpeace tarot deck, the goddess sits surrounded by animals. She holds out a glowing sun, representing her ego, toward a wolf. The wolf can then assess her intentions with close inspection. Oftentimes, we find it difficult to break down the barriers we create between ourselves and other human beings, but perhaps we do not create these same walls between ourselves and nature. Begin to open to your Strength by intensifying your awareness in nature, speaking to animals, and opening to the connection between yourself and all living things. This practice of listening to nature as a conscious part of your daily routine will build up your ability to interact on a similar level with other people. The more people who can connect and interact with using the gentle control and compassion of Strength, the more peace and joy will exist in our society.

strengthSS

Strength Shadowscapes Tarot

When the Fool grasps the lesson of the Strength card he will have a deep sense of emotional and mental wellbeing.   This serenity allows him to go beyond the mind, body, and heart, and delve deep into the soul or spirit. He will retreat into introspection in the next step of his journey as The Hermit, in order to solidify and deepen his wisdom. For now he knows that Strength is the power deep inside. You need to be willing to break down your inner barriers, your feelings of being undeserving or untrustworthy and your feeling that you are separate. You need to stop your mind from judging you unworthy. You need to stop judging others. Strength is something that flows out of you and then helps you integrate with the greater flow around you. Strength cannot be grasped at but rather opened to. Open to let it emerge from you naturally. We all have this ability within us.

If you would like to connect with the energy of your own Strength at this moment, a tarot reading can be a powerful tool to help you open to this self-knowledge. I have designed a special tarot spread just for this purpose. This five-card spread helps you find and develop your own personal inner Strength. It explores:

  1. Your current Strength
  2. How you can enhance your Strength
  3. What can hinder, oppose or distract your Strength
  4. How you can apply and use your Strength
  5. What your Strength can bring you

This truly empowering tarot spread will have you ready to take on your life challenges in no time. I encourage you to try this spread on your own or get in touch with me for a reading on my website www.thewillowpathtarot.com.  You will find the Find Your Inner Strength spread there as well as many others!